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Lean times are here for Help House

Jean Wieman stands among food donations inside the North Whidbey Help House food warehouse. - Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times
Jean Wieman stands among food donations inside the North Whidbey Help House food warehouse.
— image credit: Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times

Food donations are going out the door as fast as they are coming in at the North Whidbey Help House, said Executive Director Jean Wieman.

“While our donations are up, our expenses have increased and so has the number of clients we serve,” she said.

The situation makes Wieman worried about the upcoming holiday season.

“I don’t know what to expect,” she said.

In the past, she’s called the holiday rush of donations, the “fat, dumb and happy time,” when the donations roll in and Help House socks away the extras, which carry the organization through the first part of the new year.

But with a lean stockroom only one month before Thanksgiving, Wieman wonders what this holiday will bring.

“This is really scary,” she said of their half-empty food warehouse.

One thing is certain, she said, the Oak Harbor community is very generous.

“I’m amazed at the constant flow of donations,” she said.

Even so, North Whidbey Help House handed out 561 food baskets last month. That’s a record number for the organization, up from their previous average of 426 baskets each month.

In contrast, when Wieman first started work with the Help House in 1996, the organization gave out 140 food baskets a month.

Despite the economy, Wieman is confident that the community will pull through with enough donations for the holidays.

“People are hungry 365 days a year,” she said.

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